“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Benjamin Taylor.” The dean announced. “Why am I not surprised to find you in my office facing yet another disciplinary hearing?”
Maybe because my teachers are simpletons? “I don’t know. It sounds like a problem to work out with Mr. Smith. I’ll leave you to it.”
I jumped out of the leather chair I had been forced to sit in and headed for the door.
“Hold it!” The dean shouted, forcing me to stop in my tracks. “Turn around and sit back down.”
I begrudgingly complied and made my way back, plopping in the seat as an act of defiance. “Did you need something sir?”
The dean scowled at me, his curly eyebrows furling until they could furl no further. “Would you care to offer a defense?” He asked, referring to the reason I had been sent to his office.
“Not really, I can hardly offer a defense when I have done nothing wrong.”
“Mr. Smith claims you disrupted yet another one of his lectures. Is there any truth to that?”
I winced while trying to phrase things in a way that would shift the blame from me to Mr. Smith. It was a difficult chore due to his incessant moral compass. “Well that really depends on how you would describe the word ‘disrupted’. I simply correct him when he comes to the wrong conclusion which is quite frequently.”
The dean nodded his head as he listened to me speak. I knew better than to mistake this behavior for agreement, more like a subconscious tic.
“He claims you insulted him and vandalized his chalkboard.”
“I did no such thing. I merely erased the inaccurate sections of his equation regarding force and counterforce and wrote the correct ones in its place. I also may have suggested that he was…less than competent to be teaching such a simple subject but I certainly never insulted him.”
The deans face became pained as I detailed my explanation. There was no way I was getting off easy this time, the wrinkles in his forehead confirmed it. “Is that all? Because I’m quite certain there is more to this story.” He then pulled out one of my latest inventions from his desk and sat it down on the tabletop. “Care to explain what this is?”
“I would be honored.” I quipped, grabbing the device from off the desk and holding it in my hands. “This is called a shock box. All you do is wind the handle and…viola!” The device emitted a crackling stream of electricity, shooting from one node to the other. “It is a machine I invented for the basic demonstration of electricity in action!”
“Uh huh,” the dean replied in an unconvinced tone. “Once of the ways you have been demonstrating this had been electrocuting your fellow students is it not?”
Only the ones that annoy me. “No! of course not! I would never dare dream of doing something so cruel, no matter how humorous any sane person would find it.”
With a sigh, the dean lowered his glassed and leaned back in his chair. “Why are you doing this to me son? Do you think that just because I’m your father you can just have the run of this place?”
“Listen father, my talents are wasted in this prison cell you call a university. Never in all my life have I had to share a building with so many sniveling wastes of time. I have had to correct all my professors at least once, dumb myself down so as not to throw the grading curve to high, and endure the constant mockery of my peers. Have the run of the place you ask? I should be running this place!”
Uh oh…maybe that was unwise to say. Dads’ eyes are narrowing, his forehead scrunching up, lips twitching, here comes the yelling! But no, the yelling didn’t come.
“Perhaps you have a point my boy.” He remarked as he rose from his seat. “Your talents and abilities are being wasted in a place such as this.”
Who is this man and what happened to my father? “Uh, thank you sir. I must say I am a bit surprised to hear you express a sentiment such as this.”
He began to walk to my side of the desk, limping as he stepped, “You know, I seem to recall an opportunity presenting itself recently that I think could use your talents. An overseas apprenticeship with none other than the brilliant Oliver Winston.”
“Oliver Winston, you say! And this is no jest?” Excitement began to build within me, causing me to squirm in my chair.
“No jest my boy, if it’s something your heart desires, I can have you shipped out within the week.”
“But what of my studies father? Surly I cannot up and leave without consequence?”
“You let me worry about that.” He said in a lighthearted manner. “I take it that means you are interested?”
“Of course! I’m glad you finally recognize the value of my abilities!”
“I certainly do my son. Now go home and get packed! The ship leaves Wednesday and won’t be able to return for several weeks so make sure you forget nothing. I will fill you in on the details of your venture later.”
I leapt up and gave him a warm hug, something I had not done in many years. “I promise you won’t regret this!”
“I know I wont my boy, now go and ready yourself.”
I burst out of the office and slid down the brass railing of the stairwell, nearly tackling my father’s assistant to the ground.
“Good news I presume?” Mr. Blevins asked as he picked his papers off the floor.
“Good news indeed! My father has allowed me to join an expedition in America! I won’t have to set hide nor hair in this awful place for three months!”
“Good news for all then,” He quipped as I slid down the next railing.
From the campus lawn, I sprinted home, dodging the carriages passing in the street and weaving between automobiles. In no time, I had a suitcase full of clothes and a suitcase full of inventions. Setting them down beside my bed, I lay in it dreaming about what grand adventure now awaits.
Knock, knock, a rapping on my door awoke me from my daydreams. “Come in.”
It was my mother. She scurried through the room, picking up clothes and discarded mechanical parts off the floor. “What are you doing lazing about?” she asked. “And why aren’t you at school? Your father will have your hide if you skip any more classes.”
“On the contrary mother, father is the one who dismissed me.”
She looked worried, as though a tragedy had just befallen her. “Did he say why?”
Getting up from the bed, I grinned while pointing to the suitcases I spent hours packing. “Father has finally agreed that I am wasting my time at university. He offered me a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel abroad to America and apprentice under the brilliant Oliver Winston!”
I expected her face to light up from excitement but instead she broke down in tears. “What’s the matter mama? I should expect you to be joyful.”
She gave no answer, instead hugging me tight and heading downstairs. The sounds of her weeping echoed up through the vents, giving me reason to wonder. She must be sad about my imminent absence is all! Crashing back into my bed, I resumed my daydreaming. Yes, indeed life was finally looking up.ns220.127.116.11da2